Jeremy Rubin and MIT Digital Currency Initiative accused of using “hit pieces” to attack rivals Ethereum and IOTA

  • September 5, 2018
  • 2:05 am ET
Jeremy Rubin Digital Currency Initiative - blue

The logo for MIT Digital Currency Initiative and Jeremy Rubin riding a longboard.

An editorial published on an Australian news site accuses Jeremy Rubin and MIT Digital Currency Initiative of using organized “project assassination attempts” to attack rivals with hit pieces across publications.

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The tagline for the Bitcoin-focused MIT Digital Currency Initiative — “toward an inclusive global economy” — would lead one to believe that they welcome all comers in the burgeoning crypto space.

However, in an editorial published yesterday on Australian news site, Andrew Munro accused the MIT Media Lab-based research community, and more specifically their co-founder and Bitcoin Core contributor Jeremy Rubin, of using online tech publications as well as the MIT Media Lab blog to attack rivals.

Generally speaking, Munro describes the attacks as “spurious accusations” that attempt to “seed permanent doubt through repetition” of negative messages.

In fact, Munro claims there’s formula to their attacks, pointing to specific examples and similarities between a recent “hit piece” about Ethereum and earlier attacks on IOTA.


In his editorial, Munro outlines this “strangely formulaic way of going after rivals,” which has three steps that he not-so-subtly calls “project assassination.”

  1. Publish a hit piece in a well-known, respected publication
  2. Wait for the target to respond to the hit piece
  3. Twist the rebuttal for a second hit piece in a different publication

This is a pretty serious allegation, so let’s take a look at how Munro backs up his claims.

Step 1: Publish a hit piece.

In the most recent example, Munro points to this September 2nd, 2018 TechCrunch article from Rubin with its hard-to-misinterpret title, “The collapse of ETH is inevitable.”

For a previous example, Munro points to this article by Joichi Ito, MIT Media Lab Director, that appears to be a callout piece against IOTA from December 20, 2017, taking exception to an earlier MIT Technology Review headline that stated that IOTA “could outperform Bitcoin.”

Step 2: The target responds

Rubin’s TechCrunch article was posted on /r/EthTrader and none other than Vitalik Buterin himself (/u/vbuterin) jumped into the comment thread to make his rebuttal, which describes the article as missing “a few very critical economic and technical details.”

IOTA took a slightly more detailed approach to their rebuttal, posting a four-part series on their official blog that, among other things, accused many of the people at Digital Currency Initiative of having “significant, personal” conflicts of interest “due to their involvement in competing technologies.”


Step 3: Twist the rebuttal

Here, on the ETH front, Munro jumps over to this TheNextWeb (TNW) article which, in addition to having the amazing image below, positions Buterin’s rebuttal in a pretty unflattering way, “Ethereum needs to evolve or ETH will become valueless.”

Vitalik Buterin Shirtless

Image via TNW

On the IOTA front, Munro points to two examples of more recent followup pieces that he claims “Digital Currency Initiative enlisted… to keep the narrative stewing.”

First is this February 2018 TNW article about a purported replay attack vulnerability that prompted IOTA to blacklist TheNextWeb for “repeated deliberate defamation through fabrication, lies and complete misrepresentation of our stances.”

Second is this August 2019 TechCrunch article about cryptocurrency insecurity in IOTA, BCash and “too many more.”

Munro closes out his editorial hypothesizing about what might come next in what seems to be a bitter feud between those who are, as Rubin describes himself, “deeply involved in Bitcoin,” and those like IOTA and ETH who some might argue are more interested in working toward that “inclusive global economy” in DCIs tagline.

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